Want to Teach Your First Workshop? Here are 5 Quick Preparation Tips for Success!
Today I taught the first session of my "Root to Rise" Yoga Workshop Series and I was so pleased with the openness and curiosity of the participants. The purpose of this workshop series is to help new and seasoned yogis deepen their understanding and practice of the foundations of yoga. Our first day (today) was over Sun Salutations, breaking down every posture and transition with hands-on adjustments and Q & A's. Despite not knowing many of the participants, nor their fitness level, I feel like our preparation made this first class a complete success and I felt so good afterwards. I could see the look of satisfaction and eagerness on the practitioners' faces and there was a sense of positivity and satisfaction in the air. It got me thinking just now, so I opened up my laptop to share my thoughts with you.
Workshops can be great ways to offer your students deeper and more individualized training in your specific area of physical fitness. As yoga instructors, it's hard for us to spend too much time on one specific asana or transition, let alone adjust participants individually for the sake of keeping the class going. Workshops give you the flexibility to stop, talk, demonstrate, adjust etc. in order to better educate the participants. You get a chance to nitpick at all of those subtle (and not-so-subtle) misalignments or unsafe habits that burn our eyes when we see them in normal classes. And along with the obvious benefits for participants, it's another way for studios and instructors to gain income from the workshop fees.
If you have never lead a workshop and think you might want to put one together, here are some easy tips for your preparation process.
" In yoga, you never chase an experience--you only prepare for it."
5 Ways to Prepare for Success
1. Workshop Concept
2. Spread the Word
3. Share the Load
4. Reach Out
5. Set the Stage
1. Have a clear concept that you can outline in writing.
Your participants want to know exactly what they are getting themselves into and where their money is going. Be sure your workshop name and explanation state the actual activities within the workshop, the goals to be achieved, and how those goals will be achieved.
Here's an example of our workshop ad:
Root to Rise Yoga Workshop: Mastering the Foundations of Yoga
The mission of this workshop series is to provide hands-on and broken down training of the foundations of yoga in order to strengthen and progress your practice. We will focus on body alignment, engagement from head to toe in each asana, smooth and intentional transitions using breath, modifications with or without props, and hands-on adjustments. This series will be divided up into four workshops, each lasting 75 minutes.
High plank, low plank, chaturanga
2. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
This may seem like common sense, but it's surprising how long it can take people to make the commitment of spending money on something extra like a yoga workshop. Be sure your studio/gym/place of employment creates flyers and places them all over the facility, puts them on social media, but most importantly: announce the workshop at other classes. Have the instructor reference the flyer, talk about the workshop, and encourage students to take a picture of the flyer with their phone. Almost every single one of my participants at my workshop today heard about it from an instructor at another class. You cannot rely on Facebook or Instagram to sell your workshop, especially if you're new to teaching workshops and trying to build your following. Give yourself AT LEAST 6 weeks to advertise your workshop. Be fair to your other colleagues and tell them about the workshop so they aren't vaguely talking about something they aren't educated on. Make sure they are excited about it for you. These are the folks selling your event.
3. Have an Assistant and/or Co-Teacher
All instructors have something valuable to bring to the table and balancing instructor strengths keeps the workshop realistic and accessible for all types. I am so lucky that my co-teacher today focuses on slower paced, gentler styles of yoga, as I tend to do faster, more intense vinyasa flows and sequences. We were able to bounce off of each other material wise, as well as offer our participants a variety of modifications and techniques. Along with resorting to each other for ideas and opinions, having one teacher speak while the other does hands on adjustments really helps the workshop move forward and give the participants more of the corrections they seek.
4. Send Out A Welcome Email A Few Days Before
Give the participants an extra treat of a preview/welcome email when getting close to the start date of the workshop. My guess is 99% of them are really excited about the workshop because they spent some money on themselves to do something healthy that they may not ever get to do, they cleared their calendar, and probably grouped together with some friends to make it a social event as well. Assume that your workshop is the highlight of their month. A welcome email with some information on what to expect can make them feel like they get an early start.
For the workshop that I taught today, we sent out an email several days ago introducing ourselves and exclaiming our excitement to meet them all. I listed some tips about coming early so we could start on time to take advantage of the full 75 minutes, to bring something to write with for notes and questions, silencing cell phones, and having layers to wear due to the stopping/starting nature of a workshop and air conditioning can make some people get very cold while sitting still. Then I wrapped up the email with another statement of anticipation and thanks. The welcome email is a nice touch to the experience of your practitioners and shows you to be a thoughtful and caring instructor.
5. Set the Scene
Before your participants arrive, set the studio up to welcome them in the atmosphere in which you wish to create. For example, today I laid out blocks in pairs, along with yoga straps for everyone to take upon entrance. I had very light music playing, my yoga mat set in front, and the lights at a medium brightness. I opened the door 30 minutes early, and sure enough, 3 women arrived 25 minutes early. They were excited, they came together as friends, and wanted to get themselves set up and warmed up. How you present the room before the workshop even begins is the first impression of the day's experience. Make it inviting and give them time to "get cozy".
I wish you great success on your first workshop. Feel free to ask any questions on the comments section below and subscribe to the blog for email notifications with more instructor tips!